2009-08-26 / Front Page

Fear of swine flu results in closing of another school

Classes at Cowan Elementary School have been canceled for the remainder of the week after more than 60 students were absent on Aug. 25, according to Letcher County Schools Supt. Anna Craft.

Craft said some students had flulike symptoms and others may have a stomach virus.

"We'll just have to give it time to run its course," said Craft.

Classes were canceled at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School Aug. 18 through Aug. 21 after a parent notified the school system that a child possibly had the H1N1 flu, commonly referred to as swine flu. Two students at MJP tested positive for H1N1.

Sheila Hogan, lead nurse at the Letcher County Health Department, said there is no way to know where the students contracted the virus.

"All of the other schools' attendance is up and they don't have pockets of sickness," said Craft. "Martha J ane is b ack on co urse."

Craft said teachers across the district are monitoring methods of hand washing and hand sanitizing.

Craft said buses, cafeterias, water fountains and other areas are being cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis.

"We are doing a vigorous cleaning constantly," said Craft. "We're doingthebestw ecan."

Craft said parents should not bring children to school if they have fevers or are vomiting.

"If your child is sick, keep them home," said Craft. "Parents don't need to panic. When they are in doubt, they need to contact their family ph ysician."

Hogan said in addition to the two cases of H1N1, six cases of influenza A have been reported to the health department. The cases of influenza A are being treated as H1N1.

"It's not time for seasonal flu," said Hogan. "Because there are so many cases (the Kentucky Department for Public Health) is assuming they are H1N1. They are treating it like H1N1 b ut not testing for it ."

Hogan said it would be impossible to know exactly how many people in Letcher County have the H1N1 flu because the state is not testing specifically for it and some people are not going to the doctor.

"Everybody is afraid of it and there has been so much coverage on the news about it," said Hogan. "It's no more severe than the regular flu. It can get more severe, but it hasn't yet."

Hogan said people should continue to follow good hand-washing procedures and cover their mouths with a handkerchief or tissue before coughing or sneezing. People can also protect others by coughing into the crease of their elbows.

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